International Labour Standards on Dock workers


For many countries, the dock industry is today an important link in the transport network that requires constant upgrading in order to respond to the demands of international trade. The growing transport volume, the increasing sophistication of infrastructure, the widespread use of containers, and the intensity of capital investment required for the development of dock activities have led to profound reforms in the sector. Once a sector relying on mostly occasional and low-skilled labour, dock work now requires more highly skilled workers who are increasingly registered workers. At the same time, there are growing demands on dockworkers to be more productive and to work in shifts, while the overall dock workforce has been reduced. Developing countries are finding it difficult to finance the development of increasingly sophisticated ports. ILO standards help address these challenges by dealing with two peculiarities of dock work: the need for specific protection due to safety and health hazards to which dockworkers are exposed during their work, and the impact of technological progress and international trade on their employment and the organization of work in ports.

Selected relevant ILO instruments

  • Dock Work Convention, 1973 (No. 137) - [ratifications]
    This convention deals with new methods of work in docks and their impact on employment and the organization of the profession. It has two main objectives: first, to afford protection to dockworkers in their professional life through measures relating to the conditions of their access to and performance of work; and second, to foresee and manage in the best possible manner, through appropriate measures, fluctuations in the work and the workforce required for it.
  • Occupational Safety and Health (Dock Work) Convention, 1979 (No. 152) - [ratifications]
    This convention requires ratifying states to take measures with a view to providing and maintaining workplaces, equipment and methods of work that are safe and without risk of injury to health; providing and maintaining safe means of access to any workplace; providing information, training and supervision necessary to ensure protection of workers against risks of accident or injury to health at work; providing workers with personal protective equipment and clothing and any life-saving appliances reasonably required; providing and maintaining suitable and adequate first-aid and rescue facilities; and developing and establishing proper procedures for emergency situations which may arise.

    Model Form and Certificates as required by Article 25(2) of the ILO Convention concerning Occupational Safety and Health in Dock Work (No. 152), 1979 - Register of lifting appliances and Items of loose gear

  • Further relevant instruments

Further information

  • General Survey on Dock Work (2002) - [pdf]